CW4 Norman Cox was a VHPA member who died after his tour in Vietnam on 09/17/2010 at the age of 81.3
Clarksville, TN
Flight Class 56-13
Date of Birth 05/31/1929
Served in the U.S. Army
Served in Vietnam with 57 TC CO in 62-63, 120 AVN in 63, 242 ASHC in 68-69
This information was provided by Donald Jordan, Frank Pierce

More detail on this person: It is with great sadness that I report on Friday, September 17, CW4 (R) Norman Cox passed away at his home in Clarksville, TN.

I saw in the TAPS section of the Jan/Feb 2011 issue the notice of the death of CW4 (Ret) Norman Cox. Norm and I served in the 57th TC Co (CH-21) in 1962-63 in Viet Nam. I was the maintenance officer. We had been supplied with new self sealing fuel bladders. What we were not told was that the new bladders held less fuel than the old bladders. We didn't trust the fuel guage systems in the CH-21 to start with so we carried a calibarted wooden dip stick in each aircraft to get a more accurate reading. However, without the new information about the cells holding less fuel our dip sticks were now not accurate either.

We had a ship go down in the plain of reeds due to engine failure. After spending 3 day in the muck and mud we had a new engine installed. Then we had to fly out our Vietnamese soldiers who had provided area security for the 3 days. Norm and I were hauling the last load of troops out in the repaired helicopter. As policy, the pilot flew with his head out of the cockpit and the co-pilot monitored all the instruments. I was in the pilots seat and we were at about 100 feet and 100 knots when Norm said, "Captain, I been watching that fuel guage fluxuate and .....THERE IT GOES!" We ran out of fuel. I went into autorotation and had to flare the ship rather steeply to stop short of a tree line. In doing so, I hit the ground with the tail cone on the CH-21. This cone was fiber glass just in case this happened so you didn't do any structural damage. However, it was a bugger of a job to change the tail cone when you busted one because one mechanic had to get inside the rear section to buck the rivets from the inside. That was a tight fit and a hot job any time. The tradition in CH-21 companies was if you got "a piece of tail" you had to buy the crew chief a case of beer. Likewise, if you ran out of gas (regardless of the reason) you bought a round of drinks in the club. As the senior officer on the crew I had to shell out.

As an aside to the story, we had to make a radio call to have them fly us a 55 gallon drum of fuel out to the site. The troops we were carrying formed a defensive position around our site just in case some VC in the area decided to try and take us out. Norm, I and the two EM on the crew (crew chief and door gunner) were standing around waiting for the fuel when shots were fired - some from some distance from our site and some from our defending troops. We all hit the ground thinking we were under attack. When the Viet Nam troops we were carrying saw our reaction they all started laughing. The shots fired by both sides were merely recongition shots because the base camp had sent out a column of troops to help us if needed. However, they failed to inform us this was going to happen and we thought we were under attack.

The 57th Helicopter company (later 120th Aviation Company) have held several reunions at Ft. Rucker/Ozark over the years since then. Norm and I always re-tell the story for those who had not heard it and had a few laughs at ourselfs over the incident. I was deeply saddened to hear of Norm's passing. As always, I miss an old comrade with whom I have had the honor of serving our country. God bless Ameria.

From: Donald R. Jordan, LTC, USA-Retired, Master Army Aviator

This information was last updated 05/18/2016

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